Author Archive

Nutrition is A Vital Part of Your Overall Well-being

. Posted in Journey to Healthy Aging Blog

– By Alison Kennedy Hand, MS, Wellness Director, Florida Presbyterian Homes

This month’s wellness focus is on the physical dimension of wellness. Physical well-being promotes lifestyle choices that can maintain or improve health and functional ability. Engaging in physical activity, choosing healthy foods, getting adequate sleep, managing stress, limiting alcohol intake, and not smoking are ALL good health practices.

For insight into the nutritional aspect of a healthy lifestyle, I talked to local health coach Debbie Zimmerman. Debbie has a passion for healthy food and loves sharing her nutrition knowledge with others through presentations and cooking demonstrations. She was happy to answer a few of my nutrition-related questions.

Question: Why are good food choices important for good health?

Answer: Our food choices are directly linked to either good health and vitality, or more often, disease and disability. Many people blame their “bad genes” for the illnesses and diseases they have. As I’ve heard many times, “Genes load the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger.” In other words, our lifestyle and the choices we make have a major impact on our health.  

Question: What led you to develop a career involving nutrition?

Answer: I have bad genes in my family tree. From an early age, I realized that I didn’t want to fall prey to many of the diseases that my grandparents experienced such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. It was the long, lingering illnesses and pain they experienced that broke my heart as they suffered.

Question: What are some reasons why Americans eat so poorly?

Answer: Today, fast-foods are a primary source of calories in the U.S. There are many different types of fast-food places. Fast-foods fit in with our high-stressed, fast-paced society; both of which have negative consequences when it comes to our health.

Question: What advice would you give someone who wants to make changes in their diet?

Answer: Borrowing from author Michael Pollan, I would recommend as he does, “Eat real food. Not too much and mostly plants.” There are numerous benefits of a whole food, plant-based lifestyle for preventing, halting or reversing many chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, many cancers, and autoimmune conditions. The more plants on our plate, the less pills are needed to combat chronic conditions. The more plants we eat, the more energy and vitality we will have to enjoy life. 

Question: What does wellness mean to you?

Answer: Wellness is a lifetime journey in pursuit of optimal health and longevity. It is the awareness and daily practice of multiple dimensions of wellness that lead to well-being — including the physical, emotional, social, spiritual, intellectual and occupational aspects. When we find balance and fulfillment in these dimensions, we are on our way to a thriving lifestyle.

Learn More About Environmental Wellness

. Posted in Journey to Healthy Aging Blog

– By Alison Kennedy Hand, MS, Wellness Director, Florida Presbyterian Homes

This month’s wellness focus is centered around the environmental dimension of wellness. Environmental well-being promotes interaction with nature and your personal environment. For example, resident Debbie G. is a nature lover. She has taken this love to create a good habitat for the birds that live within our community — specifically the Wood Ducks and Purple Martins. I took the opportunity to ask Debbie a few questions regarding birds here at FPH.

Alison: Since last year, have you done anything new with the Wood Duck boxes or Purple Martin houses?

Debbie: The Wood Duck boxes need maintenance every year. I built enough new Wood Duck boxes to replace the rest of the boxes. The entrance holes were sized to be specific for Wood Ducks. By taking this approach, the boxes were no longer accessible by the Black Bellied Whistling Ducks and that has cut down on the presence of this invasive species. Without the help of our FPH maintenance team, these boxes would not have been installed. The Purple Martin barns also have been cleaned out, refreshed and re-installed.

Alison: What other birds have you seen on our campus? Which bird is your favorite?

Debbie: It’s always nice to see our regular bird visitors, but there are a few that are a pleasant surprise. Eastern Phoebes are occasional visitors. There is a flock of four Green Parakeets that come by every so often. And while I haven’t seen them, the Northern Parulas, Barred Owls, Eastern Screech Owls and Black-Crowned Night Herons can be heard.

Alison: What can people do at FPH to promote bird conservation and habitat preservation?

Debbie: Birds need food, water, shelter and nesting areas. Bird food spilled on the ground can attract undesirable critters. Bird feeders are a good alternative. Bird baths need regular maintenance and the water needs to be exchanged to prevent harboring mosquitoes. Trees & shrubs can be shelter, along with a food source for birds that feed on insects. When birds are in nesting season, food that is formulated for nesting birds can be offered. Ways to promote bird conservation can be simple. Keep track of the birds you see on a daily basis. Audubon sponsors an annual event for backyard birds to report what they see during a specific time. By learning your local birds daily, you will be able to participate in the annual event.

Environmental Wellness Challenge: If you want to start keeping a list of daily birds, there is a good reference source for bird identification. A free electronic resource is available called Audubon Bird Guide by the National Audubon Society. Take the time to download the free app and learn about your backyard birds. This interaction with nature and your personal environment is not only enjoyable, but also supports your overall health and well-being.

Being Physical is Key to Maintaining Independence

. Posted in Journey to Healthy Aging Blog

– By Alison Kennedy Hand, MS, Wellness Director, Florida Presbyterian Homes

In a recent February study in the Journal of American Medical Association, one in four women over the age of 65 were unable to walk two blocks or climb a flight of stairs. Known as mobility disability, it is the leading type of incapacity in the U.S. and key contributor to a person losing their independence

Researchers followed 5,000 women for up to six years.  Participants wore a research accelerometer for seven days to obtain accurate measures of their physical activity. The average time spent doing light physical activity was 4.8 hours/day. Examples of light physical activity included washing and drying dishes, gardening, and walking at a pace of about 1.5 mph, such as done when shopping. The study found that women who spent time doing light intensity physical activity had a 46% lower risk of mobility loss compared to those who engaged in low levels of physical activity. Women with and without obesity also reduced their risk of mobility disability but the benefit was strongest in women with a Body Mass Index of less than 30.

“More focus should be on the importance of light physical activity to improve the health and well-being of older women,” said the study’s co-author Dr. John Bellettiere. “Doing so may help women maintain mobility and independence as they age.”

This information is important when considering a person’s physical wellness — defined as the ability to maintain a healthy quality of life that allows one to get through daily activities without undue fatigue or physical stress. The goal of living independently is one shared by many people, and physical wellness is necessary to achieve this. Lifestyle choices that can maintain or improve health and functional ability include engaging in physical activity as mentioned in the study above, as well as choosing healthy food, getting adequate sleep, managing stress, limiting alcohol intake, not smoking, making appointments for check-ups and following medical recommendations.

It’s important to note that the physical dimension of wellness also involves personal responsibility and disease prevention. Being physically fit and feeling physically well often leads to the psychological benefits of enhanced self-esteem, self-control, and decreases in depression. And, as the study has proven, maintaining physical wellness is key to maintaining independence as one ages.

Sources:;; University of California – San Diego (February 23, 2021); Glass NL, et al. Evaluation of light physical activity measured by accelerometry and mobility disability during a 6-year follow-up in older women. JAMA Network Open, 2021; 4(2): e210005 DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.0005

Seeking Occupational Wellness – During Your Career & Beyond

. Posted in FPH, Journey to Healthy Aging Blog

– By Alison Kennedy Hand, MS, Wellness Director, Florida Presbyterian Homes

The occupational dimension is defined as work that utilizes a person’s skills while providing personal satisfaction is valuable for society as well as the individual. Participating in the paid and unpaid workforce, such as when volunteering, means maintaining or improving skills and helping others. Older adults contribute to society as experienced professionals, mentors, teachers, and volunteers. Occupational wellness is achieved when you find a job or purpose in life that makes use of your gifts, skills, and talents and using those skillsOccupational-wellness-during-your-career-and-in-retirement to enrich the lives of others. Occupational wellness means successfully integrating a commitment to your occupation into a total lifestyle that is satisfying and rewarding.

To learn more about the occupational dimension of wellness, we talked to an expert right here at FPH. Dr. Gene Scruggs is a retired educator and author having spent most of his career as a professor at USF in Tampa. His gifts and talents from his professional life have served him well with his volunteer teaching opportunities. He has led Bible discussion classes and creative writing classes here at FPH, as well as being coordinator of the FPH Academy, often serving as a guest presenter. According to Dr. Scruggs, his favorite volunteer activity has been the time spent in the assisted living facility while leading Tuesday Morning Dialogue.

Dr-Gene-Scruggs-Occupational-WellnessI sat down with Dr. Scruggs to gather his input on a few important questions relating to occupational wellness.

Q. What volunteer activities enable you to use your skills and talents to help others?

A. Offering classes on creative writing, drawing and sketching. Conducting classes on developing and composing one’s life story. Also, giving presentations on language and history topics for the Academy.


Q. Why do you think it is important to use occupational skills/talents to help other people?

A. Giving classes keeps me sharp because I must prepare.


Q. What keeps people from using their talents/skills from helping more within their communities?

A. Worry that they are not able to demonstrate their abilities as they would like. Fear of talking to a group.  Thinking their skills are not of much interest to others.


Q. Why do you think this dimension is important for a person’s overall wellness?

A. Wellness depends as much on cognitive exercise as it does on physical exercise. In fact, maybe even more, since anxiety and depression can negate the work that is being done physically.


Q. How would you encourage a retiree to make time to share their gifts and talents with others?

A. People need encouragement that their talent and their gifts, however modest they may seem, are valuable for others in the community. Their efforts will be appreciated.


Source: Dr. Gene Scruggs &

Visitation at FPH

. Posted in FPH, News

FPH offers visitation for residents in Assisted Living and the Porter McGrath Health Center, in accordance with the latest Executive Order, DEM 21-001. Visiting hours are 9:00 am to 7:00 pm, daily. Please be aware that face masks must be worn on our campus at all times. Visitors must sign in at the screening desk, located in the lobby of the Porter McGrath Health Center.

Please be aware that we are currently drafting new policies/procedures to comply with the recent executive order and guidelines. We will update our family and friends on the changes as soon as possible.

Please reach out to a member of our team if you have any questions. Stay safe and be well!

Florida Presbyterian Homes Participates in World Day of Prayer

. Posted in Events, FPH, News

World Day of Prayer is being held on Friday, March 5. It’s a worldwide, ecumenical movement of Christian women of many traditions who come together to observe a common day of prayer each year, and who, in many countries, have a continuing relationship in prayer and service. This year’s theme is “Build on a Strong Foundation.”

Florida-presbyterian-homes-celebrates-world-day-of-prayerThe symbol for World Day of Prayer was developed by the women of Ireland. Its design is made up of arrows converging from the four points of the compass, persons kneeling in prayer, the Celtic cross, and the circle, representing the world and our unity through all our diversity.

According to Chaplain Etta Owens, the residents of Florida Presbyterian Homes have chosen to join with the women of Vanuatu in worship and prayer, centered on the scripture in Matthew 7:24-27.

The Wise and Foolish Builders (NIV)

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

The land of Vanuatu is in a tropical archipelago located in the South Pacific Ocean, prone to earthquakes, cyclones, volcanic eruptions and rising sea levels. This scripture tells a story about the kingdom of heaven using the image of a house and the land on which the house is built. Choosing the land on which to build is an important decision for the people in Vanuatu. Women around the world will unite this day in prayer and symbolic solidarity for Vanuatu.

Celebrating Nutrition & Hydration Week – March 15-21, 2021

. Posted in Events, FPH, Journey to Healthy Aging Blog

florida-presbyterian-homes-celebrates-nutrition-and-hydration-weekFlorida Presbyterian Homes is proud to celebrate Nutrition & Hydration Week from March 15-21. The mission of this national week is to join in a global movement that will reinforce proper nutrition and hydration as fundamental elements to maintaining good health and well-being. Organized by FPH’s Wellness department, this special recognition also serves as an opportunity to bring people together to create energy, focus and fun during the week.

The following events will be held on the FPH Campus:
  • Monday, March 15 – Fruit Smoothies in Forrer Bunker Lobby at 3:30pm on the South side
  • Tuesday, March 16 – ‘Stay at Home Tea’
    • Simply stop by in the morning at the McArthur Center Bistro (North side) or the Forrer Bunker Lobby (South side) to pick up all the ingredients you need for a special cup of tea.
  • Thursday, March 18 – Fruit Smoothies in the McArthur Center Bistro at 12:00pm on the North side
  • For the Assisted Living Facility Only –
    • Tuesday, March 16 – Citrus Water in ALF Garden at 10:00am.
    • Wednesday, March 17 –  Green Smoothies in the ALF Second Floor Dining Area at 1:00pm.
    • Thursday, March 18 – Citrus Water in ALF Garden at 10:00am.

“We’re excited to once again highlight Nutrition and Hydration Week,” said Alison Kennedy-Hand, director of FPH’s Wellness department. “We encourage residents and staff to take part in learning more about good nutrition and proper hydration all throughout this important week.”

Apartment Specials Now Available

. Posted in FPH, News

EXTRA….EXTRA…Read all about it!

If you’re looking for comfortable senior living, then today may be your lucky day! Florida Presbyterian Homes has recently updated and modernized their move-in ready apartments. Studio and one bedroom units are currently open and available.

Come take a safe, personalized tour any time before the end of March 2021 and you’ll receive a $25 gift card to a local restaurant. And, you’ll be entered in a drawing to win a $100 gift card for one of Lakeland’s finest restaurants. (This special applies to new prospects only through 3/31/21.)

If you sign a contract by March 31, 2021, the first month’s service fee is waived!

When you’re ready to experience a lifestyle worth living, contact our Marketing Department for more information: Call: 863-577-6001 or email:

Spiritual Health Proves Important in Achieving Overall Wellness

. Posted in FPH, Journey to Healthy Aging Blog

– By Alison Kennedy Hand, MS, Wellness Director, Florida Presbyterian Homes

Importance-of-spiritual-wellnessIt is said that Wellness is the harmony between mind, body and spirit. So, this month’s focus is on the spiritual dimension of wellness, which is defined by Grand Rapids Community College as such: “Spiritual wellness involves possessing a set of guiding beliefs, principles, or values that help give direction to one’s life. It encompasses a high level of faith, hope, and commitment to your individual beliefs that provide a sense of meaning and purpose.”

To learn more about Spiritual Wellness, I sat down with our very own Chaplain Etta Owens here at FPH and asked her a few questions regarding the importance of the spiritual dimension of wellness.

Question: How would you define spiritual wellness?

Answer: A complete sense of who I am in relation to the One who created me, world around me, and my purpose in relation to each.

Q: Why is it important for someone to think about being spiritually whole?

A: We are all persons made up of mind, body, and spirit. If one part of the triad is incomplete, it creates a void that will reflect in our total personhood.

Q: What purpose does it serve for wellness experts to include spirituality into the wellness wheel?

A: If our spirituality is left unattended, there is a void within us that may cause issues in other areas if not attended to properly. Once we determine who we are and how we relate to all in this world, then and only then can we move forward to live a complete and purposeful life.

Q: What are some examples of how someone can practice spiritual wellness?

A: Learning what feeds our spirit and how to go about practicing those disciplines/rituals (i.e. prayer, fasting, worship, Sabbath rest, meditation, reading, journaling, devotionals, music, service for self and others.

Q: What does wellness mean to you?

A: Wholeness of mind, body, and spirit; health and well-being; and practice of disciplines to enhance entire-being.

I’d like to thank Chaplain Etta for her time. I think from her responses, we can all agree about the importance of incorporating spirituality into our overall Wellness goals.

Community Update – February 23rd

. Posted in FPH, News


We are happy to report that we have no positive COVID-19 cases in staff, residents, nor short-term rehab guests to report. The positivity rate has dropped below 10% in Polk County.

Bernhard Kloppenburg, Epidemiologist, Florida Department of Health in Polk County, shared the following information:

  • COVID-19 activity is still elevated, and while slowly decreasing remains above the increased activity that began after Thanksgiving.
  • COVID-19 deaths are a lagging indicator and while we were seeing roughly 12 deaths per week prior to Thanksgiving, we’ve seen over 50 per week in January and over 60 deaths reported thus far in February.
  • Influenza activity continues to remain low in Polk and across the state.
  • We are seeing indications of increased norovirus activity in Polk County.

Quarantine Clarification:

The headlines surrounding the CDC last week created some confusion for senior living providers. The CDC has clarified that residents of nursing homes, assisted living, or independent living facilities must still quarantine after direct exposure to the COVID-19 virus.

  • Visitation – There are no changes to the directives and guidance related to visitors to long-term care facilities.  The following memorandums (CMS QSO 20-39-NH and DEM Order No. 20-011) summarizes the applicable orders that are currently in place for all assisted living and nursing home facilities.
  • Vaccines – The federal government announced that it had secured 200 million additional doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine with enough to vaccinate 300 million Americans by this summer. These doses do not include the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is currently being considered for emergency use authorization.
  • Masks – The CDC has issued Improve How Your Mask Protects You. This new guidance provides recommendations for better protection against new variants of the virus, including double masking and securing a better fit around the face.

We continue to allow visitations by appointment, and with education on proper handwashing, mask-wearing, and social distancing from others. Once past the screening process, the visitor may only go to the location of the visit and is not to approach other areas, staff, or residents. I understand that many may question why this still necessary if residents, staff, and family are vaccinated. However, we are still under executive orders and will notify you of any changes. Please continue to schedule your visits through the following link: Please review the visitation guidelines available on the website prior to your visit.


Stay safe and healthy,

Maria E. Rivera, Administrator

© 2019 Florida Presbyterian Homes
16 Lake Hunter Drive - Lakeland, FL 33803
Phone: 863-688-5521 or Marketing: 863-577-6001